Genie Bouchard downed Irina Tereschenko in singles on Wednesday to advance to the Round of 16.
Genie Bouchard downed Irina Tereschenko in singles on Wednesday to advance to the Round of 16. PPA Tour

Impressions from day two of Select Medical Orange County Cup

SAN CLEMENTE, CA - Wednesday dawned sunny and beautiful here in San Clemente and the day did not disappoint. The weather was perfect and the play was great. James Ignatowich suggested PPA schedule half their events at this Life Time Fitness facility, and the facility is so nice, it’s hard to disagree with him. This location is fantastic for spectators.

Let’s note some of the highlights:
1. The ball is better. Vulcan has come out with the second version of its pro player ball and it is receiving solid reviews from the pros. I have asked a lot of the pros what they think and they like it. The ball was first rolled out in Sacramento, but that was not a good test, as temperatures were over 100 and that will soften any ball. Here, with temperatures in the 70s, the ball has performed very well. It bounces true and stays round. It can bounce a little low but it has a consistent bounce. It is slower than the original Vulcan and thus plays fairly; not too fast, not too slow.  It looks like Vulcan has a winner.
2. Tennis players making progress. Donald Young and Genie Bouchard came over to pickleball from pro tennis. Both started a little slow (especially Bouchard), but now they are showing they belong. Young defeated top singles player Connor Garnett and Bouchard joined him in the Round of 16 with a victory over veteran Irina Tereschenko. Bouchard will now face Anna Leigh Waters, so her run may well be at an end, but let’s give her credit for the obvious work she has done to improve her game.
3. The man from down under. Aussie tennis player Tom Evans came over to the USA to try his hand at pro pickleball. He won four matches in the men’s singles qualifier and then went on to defeat Rafa Hewett and Tyler Loong in the main draw, to reach the Round of 16. He will now face #1 seed Federico Staksrud. Evans plays a full-out power game, and commented after one of his matches that American pickleball seemed “a little slower.” We will see how Evans does against the top seed; maybe Staskrud can speed it up a little to make Evans feel at home.
4. Lots of chirping. Players talking/exclaiming during matches is nothing new. But, it does seem at this event like there has been a little more than there used to be. Julian Arnold got called for a point penalty for cursing; Matt Wright denigrated his opponents as “4.0s” with “no backhand”; loud shouts of encouragement/excitement after a winning point are more common than before. We saw this at MLP DC, where Ben Johns got so tired of it, he shushed his opponent. I’m all for some level of chirping, especially when it’s funny (see Sock, Jack). But exaggerated line calls or openly denigrating an opponent during a match? Count me out on that childish conduct.
Thursday we move on to round of 16 action. Every match looks difficult to predict so I expect a lot of three-game matches and close games. If you are in the area, come on out to a great venue. If you can’t make it personally, tune in to watch the action.
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